The Hindu festival of pain

Devotees pierce their skin to win Shiva’s favour
WARNING: This film contains shocking images of skin piercing.

Once a year, Hindu devotees in West Bengal gather to pray to the god Shiva for a good harvest.

Such devotion, however, involves being hung from tall trees on sharp hooks and piercing body parts with hot iron rods.

Global warming is already having a powerful and deadly affect on the farmers of West Bengal, but many think that the poor harvests are down to a lack of devotion rather than climate change – prompting many to self-injure even harder. 

Camera: Sahar Zand
Producers: Sahar Zand and Sophia Smith Galer

(Photo credit: BBC)

Can the Bhagavad Gita be considered scripture?

Professor Richard Davis explains how the Gita has taken on a new role in the modern period
Although the Gita was not originally a Hindu religious text, Professor Richard Davis says that many of today’s Hindus have adopted it as their ‘Bible’.

Photo: Bhagavad Gita engraved on a Hindu temple. (Godong/Getty Images)